TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Joint meeting of the State Council and the Commission for Monitoring Targeted Socioeconomic Development Indicators

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(Kremlin.ru – May 4, 2017)

Vladimir Putin chaired a joint meeting of the State Council and the Commission for Monitoring Targeted Socioeconomic Development Indicators in the Kremlin.

The agenda focused on three main sets of issues: Provision of state and municipal services through the network of multifunctional centres, independent evaluation of social sector service quality, and relocating people from dilapidated housing.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,

Today, together with Government members and representatives of public organisations, we will discuss the progress made towards the goals set in the presidential executive orders of May 2012.

Let me say at the outset that over these last years, we have set positive change in motion in the areas of most importance for our people’s life, sectors such as healthcare, education, culture, and housing and utilities.

Of course, there are still many problems and more outstanding issues than problems resolved. But implementation of the executive orders has reinforced the partnership between the state authorities at all levels and civil society to reach our national goals.

The public supervision system the Russian Popular Front organised has raised effectiveness substantially. We must continue developing the dialogue with professionals, volunteer groups, civil society organisations and NGOs, and create new opportunities for people to carry out their initiatives.

I would like to note, too, the work done by the regional heads and their teams. In regions where the authorities have acted competently and responsibly, concentrating resources and effort on addressing people’s problems, they have achieved significant and visible results despite all the difficulties.

Let me stress that these achievements should form the foundation for further progress. Only this way can we meet people’s demands and expectations. People today look to the highest world standards, and this makes our tasks ever more difficult. This applies to the social sector, state governance, job creation, doing business, housing quality, the environment, and conditions and space for life in general.

It is for this reason that many of the provisions in the May 2012 presidential executive orders were given logical continuation in the Government’s priority projects and other programmes and plans. Now, we need to make a general review of the progress accomplished, identify the problem areas, and outline our next steps.

In this context, I propose that we discuss the items on our agenda today, namely, developing independent evaluation of social sector quality and performance, pursuing the programme to relocate people from dilapidated housing, and enhancing the work of multifunctional centres. Let’s begin with these three issues.

Colleagues, just a few years ago, obtaining a certificate or a document of any kind invariably meant waiting in lines and visiting various agencies, and paying intermediaries. It is true that many issues in this area remain, but the overall situation is beginning to improve.

Today, many people can visit multifunctional centres to get the paperwork done for obtaining the Maternity Capital subsidy, registering as a self-employed entrepreneur, claiming title to property and receiving other services. Such multifunctional centres have opened in almost all regions of Russia.

As many of you probably remember, I have recently visited one such centre in Veliky Novgorod. This was not the only place where I saw a centre of this kind in action. I visited similar facilities in other Russian regions, but the last one was in Veliky Novgorod.

Three thousand multifunctional centres currently operate across the country covering almost the whole range of public services. Last year, the number of visits exceeded 60 million. Let me emphasise that while this project is already a success, there should be no place for complacency.

After all, there are still waiting lines in some centres, as strange as it may seem. Not all centres offer the whole range of services, and it is not uncommon that their quality falls short of expectations, even at multifunctional centres.

Make no mistake, it is what people think and their wishes that should serve as a starting point for further efforts to improve the operations of multifunctional centres.

It is essential to create conditions enabling people to use multifunctional centres regardless of where they live or have their registered address. This would be an important step towards creating a holistic, integrated framework for providing public and municipal services.

Colleagues, we began developing an independent system for evaluating social sector performance as part of the work to implement the May 2012 executive orders. Let me say here that we do not need independent evaluation simply for formality’s sake.

This represents a real opportunity for people to influence change in the work of the organisations of most importance in their concrete, practical, everyday life, establishments such as hospitals, local medical centres, schools and universities, and cultural establishments.

The aim is for people, including people with health impediments, to be able to express their views on service quality, establishments’ material and equipment base, and so on. It enables them to evaluate employees’ friendliness, and ultimately, lets them see what has been done to take their proposals into account, what decisions have been made, and how they are being implemented in practice.

The results obtained must not be simply filed out of sight. We need to establish a clear mechanism for encouraging social sector establishments that respond to people’s needs and demands, and provide for tough measures against those that do not listen to people and do not want to work on raising their effectiveness.

Of course, it is crucial too to ensure that evaluation is genuinely independent. Today, we still see cases when public sector organisations survey and evaluate each other, keeping everything in the family. And then it turns out that a medical centre, say, has a high result on paper, but in reality, people cannot get appointments with the specialists, and the level of service is low in general.

We must exclude conflicts of interest in the independent evaluation process. To do this, we should involve the Russian Popular Front, NGOs with a social focus, and regional public chambers more actively in this work. I ask the civic activists to keep us regularly updated on how the work is going, is the process becoming more objective, and are people happy with the evaluation results and the decisions that follow.

Colleagues, another item on our agenda, a big issue of great importance for millions of people in our country, is the relocation of people from dilapidated housing, including all forms of housing that was initially intended as only temporary shelter, but later, people ended up living there for decades, without even basic amenities. This concerns millions of square metres of housing. We have set the very ambitious goal of providing more comfortable housing to more than 700,000 people by September this year. I remind you of the concrete goals and figures.

From January 1, 2014, to September 2017, the goal was to relocate people from 11.15 million square metres of housing, which is home to 711,600 people. By April 1, 2017, 520,000 people had been relocated from 8.13 million square metres of housing (this is close to 73 percent of the target figure for housing and slightly over 73 percent of the target figure for the number of people). This is the picture today.

The figures show that the great majority of regions are carrying out this work, despite the difficulties we face today. I propose reflecting on measures, including financial measures, to encourage them. I also address the governors and heads of regions that are clearly not on schedule in this work, and for the reasons we have spoken of in the past, including clear management mistakes. I ask you to take personal responsibility for the situation. Do not send your subordinates to deliver the message, but go yourselves to people and tell them clearly when they will be able to move into new homes.

At the same time, I want to warn those who attempt to meet the deadlines by forcing people to move into houses where the roofs leak and the plaster is flaking off, acting on the principle that they’ll take whatever they’re given, just so that you can report the work completed. Let me say again that not only is the deadline important, but so is the quality of housing provided. I ask you too to investigate thoroughly and settle the cases when people have not been included in the relocation programme, often for invented pretexts.

I note once more that the scale of the problem is great, of course, and there were buildings that were not categorised as dilapidated at the start of 2012, but are such now. Of course, we would like to expand this programme, but for now, we must complete what we began, at least.

Nonetheless, I ask the Government, together with the regions, to develop permanent mechanisms for relocating people from dilapidated housing and get these mechanisms into operation starting on January 1, 2019. During the transition period, I propose that the Housing and Utilities Fund [the Fund for Promoting Housing and Utilities Reform] continue work, as it has proven its effectiveness overall. This seems the best option, all the more so as the Government has already prepared the draft law and it is ready for adoption.

Let’s now turn to the first item on our agenda.